Little Women

“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.”

This 1950 edition of Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Louisa May Alcott is a Junior Deluxe Edition published by Nelson Doubleday and illustrated by Reisie Lonette. This copy was purchased at the Somerville Antique Mall in New Jersey.

I’ve recently started reading American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. It’s an excellent historical fiction narrative about an exceptionally creative group of friends who lived in Concord, Massachusetts, in the 1850s. They were eventually labeled the Transcendentalists; now considered the first uniquely American literary movement. I had no idea Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau all lived within a few blocks of each other. Cheever got the idea for the novel when she was asked by her literary agent to write the introduction for the Modern Library 2001 edition of Little Women. As she writes in the preface to American Bloomsbury:

“I was delighted to discover that Laurie, the boy next door in Little Women, was probably based on Henry David Thoreau, on whom Louisa had a crush, or was it Ralph Waldo Emerson, who actually lived next door to the Alcotts? The March girls’ beloved absent father was Bronson Alcott, one of the founders of alternative education. The book I had vaguely loved as a girl reading about girls was actually a rich portrait of American writers at a specific moment in history.”

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